Category Archives: sports

First Snowfall

The first snowfall of the season welcomed Interior residents on Friday morning, and snow continued to fall throughout the day. Fairbanks received roughly 2.5″, while areas around us received quite a bit more.


Ironman goes Alaskan

Docked at Auke Lake

For the first time, the Ironman Triathlon will be taking place in Alaska in August of 2022. The capital city of Juneau will host the event.

The 2.4 mile swim will take place in Auke Lake, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, and finishing up with the 26.2 mile marathon.

Juneau does not have a road that is 112 miles long, but a course around Auke Bay has been planned by Ironman officials. The marathon will take place in the Mendenhall Valley.

The race often attracts 1500 athletes, along with their families and friends. Juneau is pretty excited about the event, and it’s a beautiful location to hold a triathlon.

Registration opens on August 16, 2021.


Two Pandemics and one Brown Jug

The Little Brown Jug

The Little Brown Jug has already seen one pandemic, and on a field in Minneapolis, Michigan and Minnesota will fight for it once again in the midst of a second pandemic.

The teams were already rivals in 1903, when Fielding Yost, and his Michigan Wolverines, left behind the 25 cent crockery. The Gophers painted the jug brown, and wrote the final score on it. The next time the two teams met, they agreed that the jug would make a nice trophy. Minnesota and Michigan have been battling for the jug ever since.

There was an eight year gap when Michigan left the Big Ten Conference, but the two teams were scheduled to restart their rivalry in 1918. That game never happened.

Minnesota had its first case of influenza in late September 1918. Within three weeks, there were over 1500 cases reported. Businesses were shut down, and gatherings banned by October 9. Like today, there were mixed reactions to the precautions. The University of Minnesota did not reopen until October 23.*

Sports across the country dealt with the pandemic, just like today. Alabama and LSU did not have a season. The World Series was played early, and the Stanley Cup was called off after 5 games because Montreal could not field a healthy team.**

It wasn’t the pandemic that kept Michigan from playing Minnesota in 1918, but the war effort. The Army had instituted a travel ban, so teams had to keep their games close to campus.

The two rivals did meet again in 1919. The Gophers won 34-7, with 1919 being the only year Yost finished with a losing record (3-4).

The Big Ten returns on Saturday, which many consider a good thing, and just as many probably do not. In any event, we have been here before, even though it predates the vast majority of us. We did get through it.

The very same 25 cent Jug will be up for grabs for the 104th time on Saturday in Minneapolis.

The Little Brown Jug at TCF Bank Stadium

*influenzaarchive.org

**Minneapolis StarTribune


Yukon Quest 2020

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A musher and dog team take the Chena River out of Fairbanks

 

The Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race started on Saturday morning.  Fifteen teams left Fairbanks, with the goal of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory in 9 days, give or take.

It was a rather chilly morning to be hanging out on the Chena River to cheer the teams on their way, but several hundred people turned out to do just that.  It was -25F when I left the cabin, and it must have been -30 down on the river ice.  Everyone, including the dogs, were bundled up.

The 1000 mile race between Fairbanks and Whitehorse first started in 1984.  A 1983 bull-session in the Bull’s Eye Saloon in Fairbanks, led to the race’s creation.  Twenty-six teams left Fairbanks that first year. The winner, Sonny Linder, made it to Whitehorse in just over 12 days.

The Quest follows the historic gold rush routes between the Yukon and Alaska’s Interior, traveling frozen rivers and crossing four mountain ranges.  Dawson City, YT is the half-way point.  In even years, the race starts in Fairbanks, and in odd years the race starts in Whitehorse.

There are ten checkpoints and four dog drops, where dogs can be dropped off, but not replaced.  Sleds can not be replaced without a penalty.  The record run happened in 2010, when Hans Gatt finished in 9 days, 26 minutes.  The slowest time happened in 1988, when Ty Halvorson completed the race in 20 days, 8 hours, 29 minutes.

 

 

 


The Battle for The Axe

And the Big Ten West Title

The longest running rivalry in college football.


Last game of the season

Frozen Four Championship:
Key Bank Center; Buffalo, NY


The French Connection

UMass vs UMD in the 2018-19 Title Game.


The Bulldogs and Minutemen during warmups

For all the excitement and anticipation, the championship game did not meet the standards of either of the two semi-final games.


The opening face-off

Duluth’s Parker Mackay scored on a PPG less than 4 minutes into the first period, and never looked back. UMass looked tentative at first, and that look never really left them. The Bulldogs clogged the lanes, blocked shots, took out bodies and basically caused havoc to the fast paced offense of Massachusetts.
UMD’s Mikey Anderson, on assists by Mackay and Justin Richards, put the puck in the net in period two. Then Jackson Cates scored in the third, and that was far more than Hunter Shepard would need in the Bulldog net.


Minnesota-Duluth goes back to back, winning their second national title in a row, and third overall

The Bulldogs would skate away with a 3-0 shutout win. Parker Mackay would win the tournament’s most valuable player award. No drama in this one.


2019 Frozen Four

Key Bank Center: Buffalo, New York


Key Bank Center

The Frozen Four returned to Buffalo for the first time since 2003, when Minnesota beat New Hampshire for the title.

The Frozen Foursome has grown to a Frozen Six, but that has no ring to it, so I’m sticking with Frozen Foursome+. At any rate, we were excited to see the NCAA Championship tournament return to the hockey town in Western New York.


Alaska-Fairbanks jersey, American International, and the Pitch-Forks

The Duluth Bulldogs had their hands full with the Providence Friars on Thursday afternoon, in the first game. The game was scoreless after one period of play. Then Duluth’s Justin Richards put the Bulldogs in the lead in period two. But Josh Wilkins of the Friars quickly tied things up.


Opening puck drop; UMD-PC

Billy Exell of the Bulldogs would get the game winning goal at the halfway mark of the final period. Duluth would add two empty net goals, for a 4-1 win. It will be the third year in a row that Minnesota-Duluth will appear in the title game.

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Opening Face-off Denver vs UMass

In the late semi-final game, Denver University played the University of Massachusetts. It was the first ever visit for UMass to the Frozen Four, and Denver’s 17th appearance.

This would prove to be an interesting matchup, with a lot of emotional swings. Denver took the lead on a power play goal by Colin Staub, at the end of a 5 minute major penalty on UMass. Denver then took their own 5 minute major, right after a minor penalty, giving UMass a 5 on 3 advantage. The Minutemen would go on to score three goals before the major penalty was over. The third goal was just a beautiful shot by John Leonard. UMass would go into the first intermission up 3-1.

After the rush of the first period, there was no scoring at all in period two. It wasn’t until the halfway mark of the third frame, when the Pioneers’ Cole Guttman put the puck past the UMass goalie Filip Lindberg. Suddenly the momentum was with DU. Guttman again came up big with the tying goal, with just under 4 minutes to play.

We were on to overtime. The Frozen Foursome+ compared notes, and placed their bets.

The play in OT was back & forth. Both teams had chances to walk away with a win. Momentum came and went. The pace picked up. Tensions rose. The Curator’s stomach was in knots.
Then at the 15:18 mark, Marc Del Gaizo, rifled a shot on net, and the puck flew past DU’s Filip Larsson. UMass had a 4-3 OT victory over Denver, and would move on to face Duluth in the title game. UMass has some sharp-shooters on that team. They are fast, and play some great hockey as a unit. UMD will be facing a tough challenge, but UMD has been here before.

Should be a phenomenal final. I can’t wait for puck drop.


Final score 4-3 UMass. An empty arena, but the UMass band is still up in the rafters playing.


Mariucci Classic Returns in 2019


Courtesy of University of Minnesota Golden Gopher Hockey

NCAA D-1 hockey returns to the ice this weekend for some programs. Minnesota returns to Mariucci Arena to take on Ferris State for a two game series. Alaska will not return to the Carlson Center until after the New Year.

The University of Minnesota did announce the return of the Mariucci Classic for 2019. The post-Christmas tournament, hosted by the Minnesota Golden Gophers, was first held in 1991, but has been on a two year hiatus. The 2019, four team field, will consist of only schools from within Minnesota, for the first time ever. It will also be the first time St Cloud State University and Minnesota State University have competed in The Classic. It will be the third appearance for Bemidji State University.

That looks to be a fun weekend of college hockey.


Hockey Halftime


University of Alaska Nanooks hockey schedule poster 2018-19

We have reached the midpoint of the 2018-19 NCAA Division 1 hockey season. A few teams play this coming week, but the two teams I follow, Alaska & Minnesota, have reached their holiday break.

Minnesota returns to Mariucci Arena at the end of December for a non conference series against Ferris State University, who Alaska recently swept.

The Alaska Nanooks return to the big ice sheet of the Carlson Center next year on January 4th, with a two game series against Northern Michigan.

Happy Hockey Withdrawal.


The Return of The Axe

Minnesota 37, Wisconsin 15

The Minnesota/Wisconsin rivalry is the most played in FBS football. They first met in Minneapolis in 1890, with Minnesota winning 63-0.

On Saturday, the two teams met up for the 128th time. On the line, just like every year since 1948, was Paul Bunyan’s Axe. With a solid win at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, The Axe returns to the University of Minnesota campus for the first time since 2003.

The overall record between the two teams in the border rivalry is 60-60-8.


Golden Gopher Football players with The Axe; Photo credit:(AP/Andy Manis)